DRAKE - A new bar and grill will be opening in Drake soon, and the owner wants to do more than serve suds and host poker tournaments.
Alan Hornbacher will be opening the Hornbacher Bar & Grill in late January and wants his new business to be the first of many to open up shop in Drake. He would like to see more economic development in the city and has already taken steps to see what opportunities might be available for others.
"We're dealing with McHenry County and the state of North Dakota Economic Development Corporation to see what other potentials we have to bring more business into the city of Drake," Hornbacher said. "I've met with some people from UND (University of North Dakota) already and Maria Effertz (Hanson) from McHenry County (Jobs Development Authority), so we're going to see what we can do to provide some additional services for rural development."
Along with job development, Hornbacher is also very interested in giving back to those less fortunate. He has several priests and ministers looking into worthwhile North Dakota charities that he would like to give part of the bar's profit to.
"The good Lord's been good to me and one of my goals is to try to help those less fortunate than me or others around me," he said.
Hornbacher's tentative plans are to open the Hornbacher Bar & Grill on Jan 27. Not only is the date tentative, but the name is as well. Hornbacher said he will be holding a name the business contest to see if the customers can come up with a better name than he has. The person submitting the winning name could win $210. Suggestions should be mailed to PO Box 54, Drake, ND 58736.
Although the business isn't even open yet, Hornbacher is already thinking about the future.
"We bought not only the bar (in) the building, which was closed, but we bought the old grocery store next to it," Hornbacher said. "So now we have room to expand into a larger bar and grill with overflow room for poker tournaments, dances, meetings, parties, whatever."
Other activities he is interested in having include beer pong, bingo, tournaments for pool, dart and pinochle, poker runs and even varmint hunts. In addition to a poker league, Hornbacher said he'd also like to have a charity poker tournament sometime this spring, although a charity hasn't yet been decided upon.
Hornbacher is an experienced businessman, having owned and operated Al-Rock-O-Dance Hall in Anamoose from 1967 to 1972, and Minot Livestock Auction, a $30 million per year business, from 1978 to 1990. He also co-managed Turtle Lake Livestock Auction and Lake Region Livestock Auction.
Even with all that experience, Hornbacher admits he has never run a bar before, and looks forward to the challenge of something new.
"It was sitting empty and I thought that somebody could make it go, and I thought why couldn't that somebody be Alan Hornbacher?" he said.
Hornbacher said Darrel Keller, the son of Hornbacher's significant other, Liz Keller, originally bought the bar four years ago and had planned to open it with his mother as manager. Then Liz Keller had some health problems so those plans had to be pushed to the back burner. Hornbacher eventually decided to buy the bar from Darrel Keller and get things going himself.
Along with alcohol, the bar will serve pizza and sandwiches at first before expanding to a full-service grill with hamburgers, steaks, shrimp and other items by June 1. If all goes according to plan, the expanded grill offerings will be just in time for the 100-year all school reunion of Anamoose in early July, which has merged with the Drake school system.
Hornbacher said Anamoose and Drake used to be bitter rivals before they merged, so that history makes this all-school reunion kind of interesting.
"Now Anamoose and Drake get along fine, but for many, many years it was mortal enemies," he said.
To make the atmosphere in Hornbacher Bar & Grill more pleasant for customers and employees alike, there will be no tobacco of any kind allowed, whether it be cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
While hiring hadn't yet begun, it will soon. Hornbacher is looking for both waitresses and bartenders. Anyone interested can call 465-3642 or send a resume to PO Box 54, Drake, ND 58736.
"Of course like anybody else we're looking for good, hardworking, honest people with outgoing personalities," he said.
The purchase of the bar became official Dec. 13 and Hornbacher has been busy making improvements. A 34-foot horseshoe bar will definitely turn some heads, and there will be an island for the liquor behind the bar.
"Between me and the previous owner who left it sit for four years, the ceiling, the walls and everything have pretty much been redone," Hornbacher said, noting that numerous people have asked him when it will be open and can't wait to see it for themselves.
Hornbacher just turned 66 a couple days after Christmas and when people ask him why he isn't down South enjoying the easy life, he responds that just isn't the way he is. He always has to be doing something, even when his doctors tell him to slow down.
"I've worked harder than three men, so I think for the last three months I was working between 17 and 20 hours (a day)," Hornbacher said. "The doctors were giving me sleeping pills to try to slow me down but they couldn't until about a week and a half ago."
"Being in the Marine Corps ... the difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a bit longer," he added.